Career Education Shares Drop

FedEx earnings rise; FTC won't challenge R.J. Reynolds-BAT deal; plus more of today's stocks in the news

FedEx (FDX ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.33, vs. 92 cents on a 21% revenue rise. The company sees first-quarter earnings per share in the range of 90 cents to a dollar, and fiscal 2005 earnings per share in the range of $4.20 to $4.40. FedEx credited the solid numbers to a broad-based economic improvement across many sectors in the U.S. and world economies. Shares were up.

Career Education (CECO ) has received a copy of a formal order of investigation from the Midwest Regional Office of the SEC. Merrill Lynch downgraded its recommendation to neutral from buy, and Bear Stearns downgraded its rating to peer perform from outperform. Shares were down sharply.

3Com (COMS ) posted a 5-cent fourth quarter loss per share, vs. an 11-cent loss one year earlier, on a 4.8% sales rise. The company expects first quarter total revenues to be flat to slightly up sequentially. S&P reiterated its hold recommendation, and Wachovia raised estimates. Shares were down.

Hollinger (HLR ) says Press Acquisitions Limited will acquire its Telegraph Group Limited subsidiary for $1.33 billion. Shares were up.

An independent data monitoring committee has recommended that IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals (IBPI ) discontinue a pivotal trial of iseganan for prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia based on an interim analysis of data. Lazard Freres reportedly downgraded its recommendation. Shares plunged.

Jefferies upgraded its recommendation for Ask Jeeves (ASKJ ) to buy from hold. Shares were higher.

Intervoice (INTV ) posted first-quarter earnings per share of 8 cents, vs. 3 cents, on a 9% revenue rise. The company sees second quarter revenue of $41 million to $47 million. Wedbush Morgan reiterated its buy recommendation, noting that light first quarter revenue provides a solid buying opportunity. Shares were down sharply.

FSI International (FSII ) posted third-quarter earnings per share of 13 cents, vs. a 53 cent loss, on an 87% sales rise. The company sees a $33 million to $36 million target for fourth quarter revenues. Lehman raises its estimates and target. Shares were up.

Mylan Labs (MYL ) filed a suit against the FDA seeking to restore final approval for its fentanyl transdermal system. The company suspended its annual EPS guidance. Shares were down.

Matria Healthcare (MATR ) sold its diabetes & respiratory supplies, and its medications fulfillment business to a subsidiary of CCS Medical in deal valued at about $130 million. First Albany reiterates its strong buy recommendation. Shares were up.

An initial 10 million shares of Saleforce.Com (CRM ) were offered at $11 per share. Shares were up sharply.

Mobile Mini (MINI ) raised second-quarter earnings per share guidance to a range of 28 cents to 29 cents from previous guidance of at least 25 cents. The company cited a continuing strong increase in demand for its portable storage products. Shares were up.

The FTC closed its investigation and will not challenge R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's (RJR ) plan to buy the U.S. business of Brown & Williamson Tobacco, owned by British American Tobacco (BTI ). R.J. Reynolds sees the deal generating $500 million in synergies within 18 to 24 months. The new company will pay $400 million to buy Lane Ltd. Shares of both companies were higher.

OraSure Technologies (OSUR ) received FDA approval of its OraQuick Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test for use in detecting antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 2, or HIV-2, in oral fluid samples. Wells Fargo sees many near term catalysts. Shares were up sharply.

Cholestech (CTEC ) says the FDA granted 510-k clearance for its new High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein test. Shares were up.

CKE Restaurants (CKR ) posted first-quarter earnings per share of 20 cents, vs. a 10-cent loss, on an 8.5% total revenue rise. Shares were up.

Performance Food (PFGC ) cut second-quarter earnings per share estimates from a range of 50 cents to 54 cents to a range of 38 cents to 40 cents. The company sees a 8-cent to 9-cent impact to second quarter earnings per share from lost margin in food service and costs from retooling plants. The company also sees a 3-cent to 4-cent drop in earnings per share related to the rollout of a new fruit product. Shares were down sharply.

Darden Restaurants (DRI ) posted fourth-quarter earnings per share (excluding items) of 46 cents, vs. 35 cents, on an 11% sales rise. The company expects a rise in fiscal 2005 combined same-store sales growth of 1% to 3%, and a rise in net earnings growth to be 8% to 12%. Harris Nesbitt reiterated its underperform recommendation. Shares were down.

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